Things to Do

McKelligon Canyon: A West Texas Gem for Outdoor Activity

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Situated on the south-eastern side of the Franklin Mountains, McKelligon Canyon is surrounded by desert canyon walls and is one of the most popular destinations for rock climbing, biking, hiking, running, or walking in the El Paso area, in West Texas. Visitors to Franklin Mountains State Park and the canyon (which is part of the park system) are offered a diverse selection of rock climbing routes from which to choose, all of which begin at the end of the canyon and are open for use year-round.

The park entails 27,000 acres (or approximately 40 square miles) and includes more than 100 miles of trail. There are guided mountain biking and hiking tours within the Franklin Mountains, including McKelligon Canyon, and riding clinics are also offered for new riders. Climbing is also permitted, using your own equipment and appropriate safety measures, in designated areas of the canyon. An added feature of the park and a highlight for the area is the McKelligon Canyon Amphitheater. Naturally surrounded on three sides by the canyon walls, this 1,500-seat outdoor entertainment area is used for concerts, graduations, and special events, and is often ticketed for large shows in the area.

With its unique natural setting in West Texas, McKelligon Canyon has often been used as a training location for those that enter the Bataan Memorial Death March, which takes place annually at the White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico. Its high desert terrain helps entrants prepare for the 26-mile march honoring U.S. service members that defended the Philippine Islands during World War II. The location of the canyon between Mount Franklin and Sugar Loaf Mountain in arid West Texas is an exceptional location to experience a part of the Lone Star State’s natural beauty, and one that shouldn’t be passed up, given the opportunity.

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